Simple Weight Programs to Improve Your Running


It’s pretty much a fact now that strength training will improve your running.

Yet, some debate remains. For example, should distance runners, who excel in endurance, lift heavy weights, thereby increasing power? Some sources say yes. Here’s one.

But, generally speaking, weight training is good for runners. Benefits include improved body composition (more muscle, less fat), reduced likelihood of injury (increased joint strength), and improved efficiency in using energy and oxygen (that is, you can decrease the amount of oxygen you need to run at a certain pace, allowing you to increase speed).

So what are some good, not-too-time-consuming strength training strategies for runners? Here are two. And equipment for both is quite economical.

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Kettlebell Strength Training for Runners

Kettlebell workouts build strength and range of motion. Here are three key kettlebell exercises. Try completing 10 reps of each (or any given kettlebell exercise) with perfect form before increasing reps. Good form is king with kettlebells.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing

The swing is the most common kettlebell exercise. It’s a fantastic way to develop power and strength through the hips, particularly in the glutes and the hamstrings. Given the constant pounding your body endures with each footfall while running, a strong backside is important both for performance and injury prevention. The quick, explosive motion of the swing also adds a unique element to your lifting routine.

Form Tips. The vast majority of the power and motion should come from the hips, not from bending the knees. Keep a slight bend in the legs but focus on snapping the hips through to move the kettlebell. Also, don’t pull on the weight with your arms. Your elbows should remain locked out the entire time, with your upper body acting as a method to hold on to the swinging weight. Video link.

Kettlebell Push Press

Kettlebell Push Press

Like the swing, the push press is designed to build power and explosiveness. This time, the focus is on the upper body. For all runners, the upper body is crucial for form and breathing – two key elements of performance. The push press builds core strength, since it only works one side at a time. It also develops explosive strength in the upper body, which is extremely important for finishing strong during the last quarter mile of a race.

Form Tips. The push press transfers power from the lower body to the upper body and builds coordination. Avoid using solely your upper half to power the weight up. After a slight bend in the hips and knees, explode up and drive the weight overhead for maximum benefit.

Kettlebell Floor To Shelf

Kettlebell Floor to Shelf

There’s actually quite a bit of twisting in the running gait. As such, rotation or twisting motions are crucial for runners. The floor to shelf helps to build strength in the upper body while focusing on the midsection. The movement also requires “eccentric strength,” where the obliques must slow down the rotation at the top of the exercise to prevent over-rotation and injury. This eccentric strength helps to prevent excess movement during running, leaving you with a more efficient running form.

Form Tips. Although the focus of the exercise is on the core and the upper body, the lower body has an important role to play. As you twist toward one side, focus on pivoting the feet and the hips to complete the motion. This helps to emphasize the rotation as well as prevent injury at the ankles and knees. Video link.

Suspension “Body Weight” Strength Training for Running

For super-low-cost strength training, harness your own body weight for strength training using HealthStyles’ suspension training systems.

This routine is aimed at lower body and core strength for runners. Developing integrated lower and upper-body strength, especially through your core, will result in a more powerful and efficient stride. Though it may seem a little counter-intuitive, your upper body and core actually play a big part in generating power and maintaining stability while you run.

The routine consists of three TRX exercises for creating core strength, stability and mobility in runners. They are, in a recommended sequence:

TRX Bottom Up Squat: 5-10 reps

This move improves mobility in the hips and ankles while warming up the entire body for any training session. It also teaches how to engage your core and arms to improve your running posture.

Photo by Blake Kasemeier

Photo by Blake Kasemeier

TRX Hamstring Runner: 5 reps on each leg

The Hamstring Runner develops your posterior chain, hamstrings, lower back, and glutes to help correct imbalances not only from front to back, but also from side to side.

Photo by TRX Training

Photo by TRX Training

TRX Chest Press: 5-10 reps

TRX describes this exercise as a “moving plank instead of a chest and arm exercise.” This chest press develops integrated core strength and stability to improve your running posture and arm drive.

Photo by TRX Training

Photo by TRX Training

Running at 50. What’s different and what to do about it.


Running Over 50You’re body and mind change as you age, and these changes will affect your running and exercise routines, and not necessarily for the worse.

The good news is that some changes you can combat or prevent – like loss of muscle mass – and others you can easily adapt to or even embrace. You don’t have to stop running.

What’s different

So what’s different with an older runner, other than perhaps some gray hair?

Natural strength. Natural strength decreases with age. If you’re 50, it’s been decreasing for a number of years. Muscular strength peaks at around 30.

VO2 max / aerobic capacity. Another change occurs in the ability to process oxygen. This is known as VO2 max or aerobic capacity, and it decreases by about one percent per decade. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s noticeable particularly when doing speed workouts or running shorter races.

Flexibility. One of the more noticeable changes for many runners is decrease in stride length, which happens as runners lose flexibility in their hips. Shorter stride length naturally leads to running at a slower pace.

Balance. The loss of muscle mass – along with loss of bone mass and the dulling of senses involved in balance like proprioception (the sense of body placement and how it moves through space) – lead to decreased balance as people age.

Recovery time. While it may seem obvious that recovery time increases with age, the physiological causes are not fully understood. According to a 2008 article in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, one of the most plausible explanations is that aging muscles are more susceptible to exercise-induced muscle damage and have slower adaptation and repair rates after exercise.

Wisdom. Older people are, generally, wise enough to know that they need to take care of their bodies. Older runners tend to want to stay running and active, and are especially eager to use experience and knowledge to stay healthy and motivated. They’re willing to address inevitable physical changes head on.

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What to do about it

Natural strength? Fix it. Strength-training is beneficial for runners of any age, but those benefits are even more significant for older runners: regular strength training can help you avoid the natural decline of muscle mass. Improved muscle strength means that your muscles absorb more of the impact while running, which eases the stress on your joints.

VO2 max / aerobic capacity? Run longer. The decrease in VO2 max has less of an impact when running longer and slower, so many older runners more or less adapt to or work around the decrease and gravitate toward longer events. Fortunately, as we get older we also get better at pacing ourselves. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about the half marathon or that full marathon?

If you want to fight the decline, there are a couple things you can do. First is lose weight. Lower weight means higher VO2 max. Higher weight means lower VO2 max. Simple. Second is high-intensity training, which was shown by Trappe, Costill, and associates to be the best way to preserve aerobic capacity as we age.

Flexibility? Fix it. Everyone’s muscles and tendons lose elasticity with time, but you can maintain or even improve flexibility if you work on it. Regular stretching or doing yoga, especially after runs, can help you become more flexible. You also should make sure you do a proper warm-up before running, especially if you’re racing or doing a hard workout. Start with a 5 to 10 minute walk or easy jog, followed by some dynamic stretching like arm circles, heel raises, or lunges.

Bosu Home Balance TrainerBalance? Fix it. The more we sit, the more balance skills erode. But balance can be shored up. Balance training starts with strengthening all the muscles in the body: weight training. Specific balance training almost always involves targeting core muscles – the ones surrounding the trunk and the back, such abdominals, obliques, and latissimus dorsi. Consider equipment such as Bosu Balance Trainers, stability balls, and wobble boards. Or, do some basic yoga balance moves such as tree pose, eagle pose, or king dancer pose.

A less obvious balance fix is mixing it up: cross training. Take a class, play a sport, or walk, run, or cycle outside. Runners, because they’re moving only in the forward direction, may have big quads but may also have under-developed gluteus medius muscles (on the sides of the hips) and adductor and abductors (inner and outer thigh muscles), which are crucial for balance. The remedy? Force the body to travel in more planes of movement.

Recovery time? Cross train. Listen to your body and don’t force runs if you’re not feeling recovered. Days off from running don’t have to be complete rest days. You can do cross-training activities such as cycling, swimming, yoga, or any other activity that you enjoy. For many, the combination of running, cycling, weight training, stretching, etc. results in an overall better fitness level. And this doesn’t just apply to senior athletes.

Wisdom? Embrace it. If you love running, be wise and address the changes in your older body. By staying as fit and healthy as possible, you’ll keep running for many years.

Also, be smart and proactive in your approach to injuries and don’t ignore the warning signs of injury. You may find that you need to take new injury-prevention steps, such as regular massages, using a foam roller, and more rest days. What else can you do? To help avoid running impact and potential injury while getting a full running workout, take a look at the Octane Zero Runner. Technology may also keep you healthier and running longer!


Coach Randy Hauer Trains Elite Runners with the Zero Runner


Coach Randy Hauer on the Octane Zero RunnerRandy Hauer is a certified USA Weightlifting National Coach, USAW Level One Coach Course Instructor, and is currently the head of the Flatirons Weightlifting Club.

Recently, Coach Hauer teamed up with HealthStyles Exercise Equipment to try the revolutionary Zero Runner from Octane, the first running machine to completely eliminate the stress and strain runners feel from their feet impacting on the floor. Coach Hauer, who in the past has been unable to run much due to issues with his hip, has now been logging more miles on the Zero Runner than was ever possible with running on the road, trail, or treadmill.

Impressed with how the Zero Runner has helped him improve his performance, Coach Hauer has been using the innovative running machine to train his elite running athletes and cross-fitters looking to advance their running game.

Check out this video of Ned Jon McMahon using the Zero Runner for the first time as he rehabs his lower back injury. Thanks in part to the training he’s been able to accomplish with the Zero Runner, McMahon will be doing his first marathon, the Big D in Dallas, this weekend.

Early Season Tips for Runners: How to Get Your Spring Training Started Right


Family RunningWith winter now well behind us, it’s time for runners and athletes to come out of hibernation and start preparing for spring and summer races. While it may be tempting to try and rapidly increase your miles from the base you maintained during the winter months, it’s important not to push yourself too hard too quickly. That’s how injuries occur.

To avoid injuries, here are seven tips to help start your season right so you can maximize performance and finish well in your races.

  1. Check your gear: Whether you decided to take the winter off, or kept up a more modest training regimen during the cold weather, there’s a good chance your running apparel could use an update. Most importantly, for runners of course, are your shoes. If they’re not keeping your feet comfortable and dry any longer, it’s time for you to invest in a new pair. Our friends over at Road Runner Sports are experts in finding the best shoe for you. Plus, spring weather can be a bit temperamental, so be sure to stock up on light layers that are easy to peel off mid-run. If you plan to do your running at night, make sure your gear has plenty of reflective features to ward off traffic.

  2. Start slow: We know how tempting it can be to jump start your training with a few high-intensity hill sprints, but resist the urge. Regardless of where your base mileage is, you do not want to overdo yourself too early and risk an injury that would force you to sit out the race you’re preparing for. Instead, start slow and take a gradual approach, building up miles progressively week after week. Start with a brisk walk for five minutes and then ease your way into a slow jog for the next 10 before you hit your training pace. For the first three weeks, we recommend keeping your runs relatively short, roughly three to four miles at most, while adding 10% more mileage each week. Don’t add your high intensity speed drills until you’ve rebuilt your running base and can comfortably run 10 miles at an easy pace. Your patience will pay off big in the long run.

  3. Listen to your body: Everyone is different, so the pace and intensity of your training will be specific to your body. Therefore, it is vital that you pay attention to what your body is telling you. Don’t be afraid to take unscheduled days off, even if it means going down in mileage for the week. With warmer weather, it’s also important to pay attention to hydration, as your body will lose more water through sweating than in colder months. For more info on proper hydration, check out our blog post Running on Empty.
  4. Prepare for new running surfaces: If you were running during the winter, most likely you logged the majority of your miles on a treadmill or an indoor track (or on the no-impact Zero Runner). In both cases, the surface you were running on was likely much more cushioned and comfortable than asphalt or concrete. As you begin to run outdoors again, pay attention to your feet and how they feel impacting the stiffer surface. There’s no need to give up the treadmill completely, so alternate running indoors and outdoors until your body acclimates. Running on trails and grass generally means a softer surface than roads, but uneven terrain can cause stress and strain if you’re not careful.

  5. TRX Lunge

    Lunge with a TRX Home Suspension Trainer.

    Cross train: To really bring your body to peak running form, it is vital that you do more than simply run. Cross training that incorporates strength work, core exercises, and stability workouts can make a significant impact on your running form, endurance, and power. Check out our blog post, 5 Essential Items for Runners, for some ideas on the best equipment for cross training and hitting peak form.

  6. Pick a race: Nothing is more motivating than putting a race on your calendar and committing to running in it. Therefore, do some research on local races in your area and find one or two that occur early in the season. The idea with these races is not to win, but to give you and your body a trial run as you get back into peak conditioning. By committing to runs earlier in the season, you will help prepare yourself mentally and physically for the races you’ll be taking more seriously later on.

  7. Find a buddy: Training in isolation is perfectly acceptable, but having a workout buddy can do wonders for your progress. Not only can a friend help you when it comes to motivation, but keeping in touch with a workout buddy is important for safety too. And if you tend to run alone, it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’re running and when you expect to get back.

Couple running

Running on Empty? The Importance of Proper Hydration


Staying HydratedSpring has officially sprung, and that means the season for running outdoors is upon us. And while running in the sun is a nice change of pace from the indoor treadmill, making sure you stay properly hydrated is something you must take seriously to guarantee high performance and a healthy workout. When running on your treadmill, it’s very easy to stay hydrated by keeping a bottle or two within easy reach. When running outdoors, however, some considerations must be made. In this post, we’ll go through some of the reasons why hydration is so important and how you can make sure you keep your fluids topped-up while you exercise.

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The Problems of Dehydration

Although human beings can go several weeks without food, water is a different story. Approximately 40% to 70% of your body is water, so even a slight loss in volume is enough to cause serious problems. The more you run, the more your body sweats. The more you sweat, the more your blood volume decreases. As this happens, your heart has to work harder to deliver oxygen to your working muscles, making it more difficult for you to continue your workout.

The Benefits of Hydration

Water helps your body regulate temperature, lubricate joints, and transport nutrients to give you the energy you need, all of which is necessary to achieve your best performance. For example, an April 2010 study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that runners who started a 12K race dehydrated on an 80 degree day finished about 2.5 minutes slower compared to when they ran the same distance hydrated. When you are dehydrated, it is more difficult for your body to transfer heat, which causes your heart to beat faster and makes it more difficult for you to keep up.

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Similarly, a 2008 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise demonstrated that cyclists who drank cold beverages before and during their workouts exercised nearly 12 minutes longer than those who drank warm beverages. The cold fluid helped lower body temperature, which led to lower perceived effort for the cyclists, making it easier for them to workout longer and harder.

Water or Sports Drinks?

Importance of Proper HydrationWhen it comes to hydration, a common question revolves around whether it is better to stick with water or sports drinks, like Gatorade. Although some negative arguments can be made about sports drinks, especially those that are in high in calories due to added sugars, sports drinks should absolutely be a part of your hydration plan.

In April 2010, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that runners who rinsed their mouths with a carb solution (sports drink) right before, and every 15 minutes during, an hour-long treadmill session not only ran faster but also about 200 meters farther than those who rinsed with a placebo. This is because the carbohydrates present in the sports drink trigger the reward centers in your brain, and the incoming energy sensed by your brain may lower the perceived effort.

Therefore, although sports drinks are generally higher in calories, avoiding them entirely is not the best idea. For shorter runs, drinking only water will suffice. But if you’re planning on running for more than an hour, you should keep a sports drink handy to help replenish the sodium you’ve lost due to sweating. Plus, the electrolytes will help you absorb fluids more easily.

Hydration Tips

Now that we’re clear on the problems associated with dehydration and the benefits you can enjoy by drinking enough fluids, here’s a list of tips to help you maximize your performance and stay healthy during your runs:

1. Drink Before You Run: Most everyone drinks once they’ve finished their exercise, but drinking before the run is equally important. One to two hours before you run drink 8-16 ounces of fluid, and then drink another 4-8 ounces right before you head outside.

2. Drink During Your Run: Whether you carry a water bottle, wear a hydration belt or backpack, stash some bottles along your route, or make pit stops at your home or convenience stores, you must have a plan to keep hydrated during your run. You should plan to drink 3-6 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. If you have to, set an alarm to remind yourself to top up. Otherwise, it’s generally best to drink according to your thirst.

3. Drink Sports Drinks: If you’re going on a run longer than 1 hour, make sure sports drinks comprise part of your fluid intake. The longer you work out, the more sodium and other minerals you’ll lose through sweating. Sports drinks will help replenish these vital nutrients.

4. Determine Your Sweat Rate: Everyone’s body is different, including how quickly your body loses water from sweating. Therefore, weigh yourself nude before a timed training run and then once again after. Every pound of weight lost equals approximately 1 pint of water lost. So if you lose 2 pounds during a 1 hour run, that equals two pints or 32 ounces. This means you’ll need to drink 8 ounces of water or sports drink every 15 minutes.

Five Essential Items Every Runner Should Have


When you ask most runners what they do to stay in shape, they generally reply, “I run.” And although running is certainly a great cardio workout, those runners who rely exclusively on running to stay fit do so to the detriment of their running game. As surprising as it may sound, to improve your running form, endurance, and economy you need to be doing more than just running. Specifically, runners need to incorporate stability exercises and strength training in their routine if they want to truly improve their time on the track and decrease risk of injury.

Towards that end, here are five essential items every runner should have:

1. Stability Ball

Exercise Stability BallThere is absolutely no excuse for you not having a stability ball. When it comes to training your core, it’s hard to beat the big rubber sphere. But, you may say, “I’m a runner. I should focus on my legs, not my core, right?” Wrong.

As great as running is, relying on it exclusively for your fitness can lead to serious muscle imbalances and reduced flexibility. A stability ball can help address these problems by adding some instability to your training. As your body attempts to balance on the ball, it’s forced to call upon groups of core muscles working in unison. Trying to keep your balance requires far more muscle groups than sit-ups and crunches, working the front and side abdominals in combination to provide exactly the kind of core strengthening that will improve your running. A strong core is vital to stabilizing your upper body, which will allow you to maintain proper running form even when you’re fatigued.

Check out our selection of stability balls.

For some ideas of exercises to do with your stability ball, here’s a great article from Active.

2. Foam Roller

Foam RollersYou may have seen these in your local gym and wondered just what the heck they’re used for. When used correctly, foam rollers can release tension and tightness between your muscles and the fascia (the thin sheath of fibrous tissue surrounding the muscles) that result from the repetitive motions you use when running. A combination of foam rolling and dynamic stretching will help ease tension, improve flexibility and range of motion, and seriously decrease risk of injury. Indeed, using a foam roller correctly can provide benefits similar to those you’d enjoy from a deep-tissue massage. If you’re serious about running, then it’s time to invest in a couple foam rollers.

Check out our selection of foam rollers.

And here’s a great eight-part video series from Runner’s World on how to efficiently use your foam roller.

3. Kettlebells

KettlebellsAs we mentioned earlier, runners who fail to incorporate strength training into their workout regimen are not only missing out on improving their running time, endurance, and form, they’re also missing out on a prime method of decreasing risk of injury. Most runners avoid the weight room out of a fear of getting too big and bulky. However, maintaining a strength program is absolutely essential to improving your running efficiency. For example, getting rid of rounded shoulders can help increase the amount of air your lungs take in and out, while strengthening your glutes will provide more power for when you push off the ground.

Thanks to their distinct shape, kettlebells are an especially helpful tool for runners working on their strength training. Ballistic movements like swings and snatches will help improve your power and explosiveness. The shape and size of kettlebells compel you to use a lot of force, core strength, and coordinated movement, all of which increases overall body strength.

Check out our selection of kettlebells.

Here’s a nice article from about four key kettlebell exercises for runners to get you started.

4. Powerblock Dumbbells

Powerblock Sport Adjustable DumbbellsAnother key tool for a runner’s strength training regimen are dumbells. Most any dumbbells will do, but we like the Powerblock dumbbells best thanks to their convenient storage and easy-to-increase weight increments.

Again, most runners are hesitant about anything that even smells like weight-lifting out of fear of getting too big. But as mentioned before, strength training for runners is not about getting big but about targeting those muscle groups that running, alone, doesn’t hit, but which are essential to improving your running ability. You want to increase your strength to the point at which your body can handle running without injury. With Powerblock dumbbells, you can focus on increasing your strength and stamina without cluttering up the room.

Check out our selection of Powerblock dumbbells.

Here’s a quick video that shows a great dumbbell core circuit workout for runners.

5. TRX Home Suspension Training Kit

TRX Home Suspension Training KitWhen it comes to an all-in-one system that allows you to work on your balance, strength-training, flexibility, and endurance, the TRX Home Suspension Training Kit is simply the best. Originally invented by a US Navy SEAL to help him exercise without gym equipment, the TRX uses your own bodyweight to deliver a powerful workout that can strengthen key areas needed to increase running acceleration, top speed, and overall running control. It’s simple to set up, easy to increase or decrease difficulty, and works equally well indoors or out.

What makes the TRX kit especially great is that it constitutes a full-body workout using only your body weight and gravity, a fact that will assuage most runners’ fears of getting too bulky from pumping iron. From basic squats and pushups to jumps, twists, one-legged lifts, and more, the TRX system is extremely versatile and, no matter what exercise you do, will engage your core stabilizers so you can build strength, balance, agility, and power all at once.

Order your own TRX Home Suspension Training Kit today.

Here’s a great video to get started improving knee drive and posture with the TRX kit.


Artificial Knees, Hips Not a Problem with Zero Runner


Dave Sheriff, the former owner of HealthStyles, has been nicknamed the “bionic man” and for good reason. With replaced hips, replaced knees, and a few more spare parts, Dave has unfortunately been unable to run like he used to.

Until now!

White Paper: The Deleterious Effects of Chronic Impact from Running


Octane Fitness and the University of Minnesota recently published a pair of white papers regarding the Zero Runner, a new piece of exercise equipment from Octane Fitness. The Zero Runner is the first running machine of its kind, as it completely eliminates the stress and strain runners feel from their feet impacting on the ground.

Here’s a snippet from the first white paper, The Deleterious Effects of Chronic Impact from Running. Click here to download the full white paper.

With recreational running at an all-time high in the United States, more people are regularly exercising and improving their fitness levels. The number of U.S. race finishers has increased nearly 600 percent since 1990, and the total number of annual U.S. running events has reached a record 28,200. A corresponding increase in injuries has accompanied this significant jump in running participation.

In fact, research estimates that approximately 74% of runners suffer a moderate or severe injury each year. Some estimates are as high as 82% of runners will get injured at some point in their running career. And dedicated distance runners can attest to a myriad of acute and chronic injuries over time.

While running confers a host of physiological and psychological benefits, the repetitive stress it inflicts on the body over time can lead to injuries.

An independent study by the University of Minnesota found that the Zero Runner had minimal force impact when compared to outside and treadmill running.

Want to read more? Click here to download the rest of this brief yet informational white paper for yourself!

What’s Inside:

  • Impact Force and the Human Body
  • Common Overuse Injuries in Runners
  • Zero-Impact Running
  • And More!

White Paper: Improving Running Performance with Cross Training


The all new Zero Runner from Octane Fitness represents a revolutionary new way to run: all of the benefits and flexibility of running outdoors but without the strain caused by your feet impacting with the ground. Already, the Zero Runner has changed the lives of runners who had been told by their doctors that running just wasn’t an option for them anymore (see our guest blog from Tom Riggs, here).

But the Zero Runner is not simply for injured or recovering athletes. This running machine’s innovative design makes it ideal for serious runners looking to get an edge on their competition through cross training.

Here’s a preview of the second white paper published by Octane Fitness and the University of Minnesota that highlights some of the ways the Zero Runner can help runners enhance their running game and enrich their overall workout: Improving Running Performance with Cross Training.

Running participation in the United States continues to climb, with more than 70% growth in the past decade, according to Running USA’s 2014 State of the Sport – Part II: Running Industry Report. Correspondingly, increasing interest exists surrounding training, injury prevention, nutrition and optimizing performance.

Regarding training, the exercise physiology principle of Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demand (S.A.I.D) indicates that the body adapts to the specific stresses imposed on it; so to become a better runner, one must train by running. But some runners may take this to an extreme – along with a “more is better” mindset, making logging miles paramount, often to the exclusion of any other type of exercise.

Cross training is a comprehensive approach to physiological conditioning and adds valuable variety that helps reduce susceptibility to overuse injuries.

With the Zero Runner, CROSS CiRCUIT and SmartLink, excelling in running by adding cross training is now convenient, efficient, and effective.

Want to read more? Click here to download the rest of this brief yet informational white paper for yourself!

What’s Inside:

  • Strength Training for Runners
  • The Role of Flexibility
  • A Simple Solution
  • Fueling an Addiction
  • And More!

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Ideal Cross-Trainer For The Injured Runner: The Zero Runner

Ric Rojas Coaching on the Octane Zero Runner

Ric Rojas coaching National USATF Youth Bronze Medalist, Calvin Munson, on the Octane Zero Runner ZR7.

As a running coach, I advise runners on optimum training, peak performance, and injury management. And under each of these topics there are volumes of information, products, and services available to facilitate successful training and racing.

Healthy and successful runners are any coach’s dream and, of course, I hope that each of my runners is always able to train and race at their highest level. I try to design their programs to minimize the chance of injury by incorporating stretching, non-impact cross-training, and strength training, but even with the best injury-prevention methodologies, many runners  experience “over-use” or occasionally traumatic injuries.

In order to continue training, these injured athletes will eventually need some combination of physical therapy, “non-impact” aerobic training, or occasionally more invasive medical intervention such as surgery.

In extreme cases, runners may be injured so severely that they are unable to run, but in most cases, injured runners are able to cross-train using non-running/non-impact alternatives.

This is where stationary aerobic training machines, bikes, and water-based training have traditionally come to the rescue.

The main consideration in recommending a cross-training apparatus for an injured runner is how closely it allows the runner to simulate a running workout while eliminating potentially harmful foot-strike impact. Historically, I have recommended elliptical trainers because they allow runners to reach high aerobic exertion levels with no impact. I have also recommended “deep water running” for the same reason.  Although cycling is a great aerobic training alternative, the upper-body is not engaged and body weight is supported by the bike, so target aerobic thresholds are more difficult to achieve. The other considerations in selecting a cross-training alternative are availability/convenience, price, and size.

So, in the spectrum of possibilities, each machine has pluses and minuses depending on its capacity to facilitate true running activity and other considerations. The ideal machine would simulate the physical motion of running and allow high aerobic exertion levels with no foot-strike related impact.

Recently, Octane introduced the new “Zero Runner” running trainer. This machine allows the runner to “run” with no related foot-strike impact while achieving target aerobic training levels. So far, I have been able to successfully replicate training runs, intervals, and high-intensity speed workouts on the Zero Runner. This winter, I plan to integrate the Zero Runner into my running, circuit training, and rehab programs.

The Zero Runner also meets the required practical considerations: reasonable price, a small footprint, and has three additional bonuses – a lower price than comparable ellipticals or treadmills, it requires no electrical power, and it makes almost no noise.

For those injured runners looking to get back to the joys of running without aggravating the injury which forced them away from the sport they love, the Zero Runner is a terrific option. Either as a stand-alone workout or in conjunction with a cross-training regimen, the Zero Runner delivers on its promises of providing a no-impact workout while replicating the natural running motion that other low- or no-impact options simply cannot.

Ric Rojas 1981 15K World RecordRic Rojas is the owner founder of Ric Rojas Running, which offers comprehensive training programs for both junior and adult endurance runners and sprinters of all abilities.

Rojas received his BA from Harvard University in 1974 and an MBA from the University of Denver in 1983. While at Harvard, he set the three-mile record and qualified for “All-Ivy” honors in track and cross country. From 1977 to 1981, Rojas was ranked in the top 10 US Road Racers by Track and Field News. As a high-school prep, Rojas won four New Mexico state high-school championships in cross country and track and was ranked in the top 10 US High School Milers. He still holds the New Mexico state mile record of 4:12.6.